Scary Games to Play on Halloween
by Jake Krajewski | published Nov. 1st, 2014
This Friday is Halloween, a day for spooks and tricks. For those of us that are planning on spending Halloween at home or with friends, scary video games in dark rooms can provide more chills for less money than most haunted houses. But if you’re going to spend money on games, you should be spending it on only the very best. Check out these titles for the ultimate goosebump-raising experiences.
Five Nights at Freddy’s - 3.5 out of 5 stars
An indie game that gained a ridiculous amount of recognition in August, Five Nights at Freddy’s is the cheapest game on this list at $5. It has been acclaimed as extremely scary, especially since it is an indie game developed by a single person. It was so well received that a trailer for a sequel has already been released—but is this popularity and regard deserved?
Five Nights allows players to assume the role of Michael Schmitt, the new night watchman at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Reminiscent of Chuck E. Cheese’s, Freddy Fazbear’s is a pizzeria complete with a party room, posters, children’s drawings and creepy animatronics. Your job is to watch the security cameras and make sure nothing happens to the animatronics…or you. The animatronics wander the restaurant at night, and if they find you—well, don’t let them find you.
Your room has a tablet for viewing the cameras, two doors on either side and switches for the lights just outside your doors. The goal is to survive your shift—12 a.m. to 6 a.m. Everything you do, from viewing the cameras to shutting your doors, consumes power. You only have so much power, so resource management becomes important. If you run out of power, you have to pray that the clock strikes six before the animatronics find you.
Five Nights at Freddy’s is a game focused around paranoia. When the animatronics move, it becomes a race to find them on your monitor before they find you. Checking your door light only to see the lifeless face of a robotic chicken pressed against your window can be an unnerving experience. Later in the game, scarier things happen. You may glance at a room only to see the walls now bearing the words “IT’S ME” written in what you hope is paint. Look away, then flip back, and the room is as it used to be. However, once you learn the tricks and patterns of the animatronics, the game loses a lot of its luster. You learn when to expect the jump-scares, and that heavily detracts from the game’s terror. Depending on your attention to details, this can take a lot away from the Five Nights at Freddy experience.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent - 4.5 out of 5 stars
Made by Frictional Games, a company that almost exclusively makes horror games, Amnesia is hailed as one of the most well-done horror games ever made. Amnesia takes place in Brennenburg Castle, which has been overrun by supernatural forces. The protagonist, Daniel, has lost all of his memories. All he knows is his name, and that his “former” self left him a note telling him to kill the castle’s baron.
Players are given two stats to manage: health and sanity. Maintaining health is imperative to staying alive, while sanity affects what the player sees. As sanity goes down, so does visibility. Shapes shift and Daniel's vision becomes blurry. The more the player stays in the dark or stares at monsters, the faster sanity decreases. However, using your lantern to keep out of the dark and light your way makes you much more visible to monsters. You’ll need to solve puzzles both to progress and to recover your sanity. On top of all that, you have limited lamp oil and never know when you’ll be able to find more.
Amnesia does many things well. First, there is a wide variety of puzzles, locations and monsters. The game constantly changes what it’s doing in order to provide new horrors. On top of that, it only ever allows you to take glances of its monsters. Staring at monsters decreases your sanity and increases the chance that they’ll spot you. As if that wasn't enough, they move almost as fast as you and sometimes even faster than you. Two hits from a monster and you’re dead. With no weapons and no way of fighting, your only option is to turn your back to the creatures and run. This forces your imagination to fill in the gaps and create its own horrifying images of these creatures. Different monsters behave differently and require you to adapt your strategies. Some require you to sneak around them, while others require you to bait them with the limbs of nearby corpses so you can get past them. The Dark Descent is a chilling game that will spook even seasoned gamers.
Outlast - 2.5 out of 5 stars
Outlast focuses on reporter Miles Upshur, who has come to the abandoned Mount Massive Asylum to investigate its shady past. Upon entering the asylum, he discovers that it is not quite as empty as he thought it would be. Outlast is a game that abounds in gore and disfigurement.
Gameplay is similar to The Dark Descent in that you have limited light resources that can be replenished by exploring. In this case, you use the night vision built into your camera to see in the dark, but this drains your camera’s battery. A dilapidated insane asylum makes for a very creepy setting, and the humanoid monsters that chase you are nightmarish to look at.
Where Outlast falls flat, however, is where The Dark Descent excelled. Where Amnesia made it a point to keep you from seeing more than the shadow of its monsters, Outlast seems eager to show off its creatures. The more you see of them, the less frightening they become. Once you realize that you can side-step most monsters or take one hit without dying as you push past them, they lose almost all of their ability to terrify you. The game also thrives on trying to sicken players with its gratuitous gore, but this ends up coming across as cheap and boring. Outlast is a game that starts strong, but ends up feeling tame.
Among the Sleep - 3.5 out of 5 stars
Last on our list is a horror game that is a good option for those that don’t handle scary games well. Among the Sleep has you take the role of a 2-year-old on a quest to find his mother. Most of the game takes place within the toddler’s imagination and dreams. You will solve basic puzzles and search for keys to progressing as you explore various locales based on the child’s nightmares. As you collect pieces of good memories of your mother, you get closer and closer to finding her, as well as the memories you’ve been keeping repressed.
Among the Sleep does a good job in creating an ominous feeling through its environments. On top of this, it manages to create a feeling of helplessness through its very young protagonist. The monsters all loom far over our hero’s head, adding to the feeling of being small. However, they can usually be seen fairly well and, thus, avoided. While I would like to criticize the game for that a bit more, the theme of the game is not simply horror for horror’s sake. The story of the game, without spoiling too much, requires horror to portray the feeling of terror and helplessness that is experienced by young children caught in severe circumstances. Overall, it is a good game for people that are new to the horror genre, as it creates fear without going overboard with it.
All of these games are available for purchase on Steam. Aside from Five Nights at Freddy's, which is $5, all of them will run you $20. Whether you're after something to entertain yourself on All Hallow's Eve or you want to watch your friends wet themselves while you laugh hysterically, a scary game can make your night.